My first few days as a Fellow were all about getting acquainted with a new work space and acquiring a basic set of skills that are required in the average communications department. However, very little of my time as an intern at Trust For America’s Health (TFAH) was actually spent using those basic skills, because their communications department was, in my humble opinion, anything but average.
Most of my time as an intern was spent gathering and analyzing data related to public health, reading and re-reading reports and memos on public health policy, summarizing current and future public health crises (on a variety of topics ranging from obesity to the opioid epidemic), and doing independent research on public health topics. I learned a lot about what it meant to work on a team, work at a nonprofit, and work in public health. And, while I’ve probably read one too many research papers on influenza, it’s through my time as an intern at Trust For America’s Health that I’ve come to understand what public interest communications means to me, and how I’ll carry that understanding with me into the future.
Interning at TFAH helped me realize that public interest communications is about making positive and long-lasting social change for everyday people; it also helped me realize that I don’t necessarily need to work in communications to create the change I want to see in society. While a good portion of my internship was spent researching public health policy, an even greater portion was spent gathering, analyzing, and summarizing data, which, as a statistics major, was right up my alley.
Working at TFAH taught me the importance of my statistical background in affecting change, and made me reconsider what I was actually going to do with my major in the future. Moving forward, I will do a better job of reminding myself and the people around me that there are real lives and stories behind the numbers and data that I analyze. As for next steps, I hope to earn a graduate degree in public health, so that I can continue making the individuals behind these numbers count for something.